Hello Dennis_the_menace, "i'd like to audition a player that is more immediate, upfront and intimate sounding". You are describing the sound a Krell CD Player. It will slam in your face even you are watching it. :-)
You might want to try a Wadia 860x or 861. I don't know exactly what you are looking to spend, but the Wadias are great players, well built, and will offer the kind of presentation you're looking for. I had a BAT VK D5 and found it to have the same qualities that you did..very laid back, but with an expansive sound stage. I even considered buying an"SE", but thought that I would get more of the same sound, although a little more refined. I wanted something that was more immediate, with better definition, that sounded a little more like the real thing to me. I found that with the Wadias. I went from an 850 to an 860x and finally to an 861 and with each move I got closer to where I wanted to be. Give any one a listen if you get a chance. I don't think that you will be disappointed...Skip
HI Dennis, I have never heard this player, but I thought I'd mention it since it seems to be all the rage in the UK right now for precisely the sound you're asking for :
Naim CD5. Apparently much better than previous Naim players, very dynamic and detailed without being too in-your-face. It might be worth a listen if you can find a nearby dealer.